Monday, December 11, 2017

In action

Photo by Patrick Jones. Georgetown Basketball, 9 Dec 2017.
On Saturday we had great seats at the Georgetown v North Carolina A&T college basketball game, sitting a few rows up from the baseline behind the basket. I was able to get a cool action shot of star player Jesse Govan shooting a free throw (with ball in mid-air, and he made the shot). The photo also captures new Coach Patrick Ewing on the sideline.

Georgetown is now 8-0 to start the season. They also have not yet faced a challenging foe, but next week's game against rival Syracuse will provide that test. This was our 3rd game of the season to see live, and we'll probably catch another over winter break. The games are fun, and tickets are cheap compared to other sporting events in DC. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Not a movie, very real and dangerous

Original via Twitter, 405 on 6 Dec 2017.
Continuing from my earlier post on LA, the photo above captures the horrific drive along the 405 from Wednesday, showing the Skirball Fire as it spread. The LA Times has a current view of the fires in Southern California. My thoughts go out to all those impacted in the area, and I hope for a quick end to these fires. The United Way of Southern California has a Southern California Wildfire Fund, and Ready Ventura County has set up a process to collect donations for people impacted by the Thomas Fire.
Source: LA Times on Twitter. 8 Dec 2017.

Turning a chapter

Photo by Patrick Jones. Sunset at Santa Monica, 6 December 2017.
On Wednesday I arrived back in Los Angeles after flying across the International Dateline from Tonga and Fiji. I landed to the scenes of multiple brushfires in the hills surrounding LA, with some of the worst air quality I can remember in the city. It was a sad sight. Photos of the fires in the Sepulveda Pass near the Getty Museum & along the 405 looked to be straight out of a movie. Earlier in the week I had planned on visiting the Getty after my arrival, but those plans were changed and the museum was closed, along with other mandatory evacuations in the area. The smoke and haze can be seen in my photo below from Wednesday.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Smoke & haze from the Thomas Fire.
Prior to my trip to the Pacific, we had closed on the sale of our condo in Santa Monica. This meant the end of a chapter in our life as property owners in California. We had needed to sell the place for years, but with good tenants living there we held onto the condo. While this development is mostly a very good thing, it is still a little sad to see our immediate ties to the state end. California has become an adopted home, my West Coast home. The sale of the condo does not end these feelings, and I will continue to travel back to LA for work on a regular basis.

In many ways, this change is not much different from others in my family history who have lived in California temporarily, from my 5th-great-grandfather Francisco Suastegui in 1835 to my parents in the late 1960s. California will always feel like home.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Above LA, 7 Dec 2017.
Now that I am back, I will catch up on blog posts missed during travels in November.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

In the South Pacific

I am currently in the Kingdom of Tonga, speaking at a technical conference starting on Monday. The country effectively shuts down on Sunday so we arrived Saturday afternoon from Fiji. Below is a photo taken from the schooner Whales Tale on Thursday, sailing to a small island in the Mamanucas off Fiji's western coast.
Photo by Patrick L. Jones. Sailing to a small island off Fiji. 30 Nov 2017.
Blogging has been really slow in November and so far in December. Between work and the sale of our place in LA, this outlet has taken a backseat lately. Things move much slower here in the islands but it has been an excellent experience so far. The people in Fiji are wonderful and I can't recommend the country enough. I'll be enjoying Tongan culture today.

I plan to catch up on the blogging and family history research once I'm back in the US. It looks like winter will be greeting my return, so I will enjoy the Pacific while I am here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Photo - Above the Beach

Drone footage above Santa Monica Beach, Price+Hou Associates.

The snapshot above comes from the YouTube video our real estate agent made for the sale of our condo in Santa Monica. I thought it was a cool shot, worth sharing as our weather is turning colder here in Northern Virginia.

Letter to Elizabeth

Below is a letter sent by my 2nd-great-grandfather Uriah Lamon to Margaret Elizabeth Pursley Austin, the daughter of his niece, Daisy Lamon. The letter was written 15 May 1940. On the first page, he is writing about his son George, who had moved to Huntingburg, Indiana.

On the reverse, he notes how he is writing this letter while drinking a scotch and saving paper by using both sides. He continues describing the vegetables going in the garden - lettuce, onions, peas, beans and others. Anyway, it is interesting to see a letter in his own hand, writing about daily life as part of an extended conversation through the mail with family.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunset Colors

Photo by Patrick Jones. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi. 26 Oct 2017.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi.

Friday, November 10, 2017

1966 Letter from Blanche

Last month, distant cousin Gladys sent me a trove of photos, postcards and letters from the Lamon side of the family. Below is a letter written in July 1966 by my great-grandmother, Blanche Lamon O'Brien, to her cousin, James P. (Mike) Lamon. It is a touching letter, referencing my Gumpy, my grandmother, Blanche O'Brien, and my parents before they were married. At the beginning of the letter she writes about receiving notice of the death of a distant cousin of theirs in Idaho, Joseph Harvey Eugene Lamon. He was a son of Lewis Putnam Lamon, Blanche's uncle. Lewis was a son of David D. Lamon, my 3rd-great-grandfather. This information helps connect up distant branches on the Lamon tree.

At the bottom of page 1, she shifts into writing about the weather and mentioning her visit to Florida the previous winter. At the top of page 2 she continues describing the Indiana summer heat. She also mentions Hurricane Alma, which hit the US in June 1966. She then returns back to giving an update on her family. She mentions son Harry O'Brien Jr and her granddaughter, who was married in June 1965. She also mentions Harry's son Mike, racing speed boats, and her youngest son Lowell, who had bought her old house in Broad Rippe on the White River. Then she mentions my Gumpy and 2nd wife Jeanne (my Nana), and how they were vacationing in Canada. At the end of page two, she turns to writing about my Dad.

Blanche writes about how my Dad handled the early death of his mom, Blanche's daughter, and how he was then dating my Mom. This was two years before they got married. It is a heartfelt letter and we're lucky this survived to be shared 51 years later. Thank you for sending this to me Gladys.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Building Boats

Below is a June 2013 article that appeared in the Greenwood Southsider on my Dad's boatbuilding workshops. The article references his boatbuilding class at the Indiana State Museum, which I described in my blog back in 2012.
Greenwood Southsider, 5 June 2013.

My Mom is in the process of going through old photos and articles, and sent these along to me for preservation.

Saturday, November 4, 2017


For the past two weeks I've been in the Middle East, attending meetings in the United Arab Emirates. I'm now back, and have quite a bit to catch up on. Blogging has been slow in October and so far in the new month. This is partly due to distraction from the prep for our annual general meeting, which rotates by region around the world. I've also been focused on getting our condo back in Santa Monica on the market for sale.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Map showing home of attendees early in the week.
Research wise I have a copy of a case file from the Indiana State Archives involving my 4th-great-grandfather Manuel Lamon. I will report on that case in the next few days.

I also have some great travel photos from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and I have some cool drone photos above our Santa Monica place.

As usual, more to follow, even if my blogging pace has slowed somewhat.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Unknown Church

Source: G. Wade. Unknown Church, undated photo.

The past two months I have been exchanging messages with a distant cousin on the Lamon side of the tree. She has sent along a trove of photos, scans of old postcards, calling cards, letters and other documents connected to the family of my 3rd-great-grandfather David D. Lamon. This is our common ancestor. Yesterday she forwarded the photo above, of an unknown church. There is a tall pine tree on right side of the church, and the ivy-covered tower has a large bell. The Lamon family was in Harrison County, Indiana, and it is possible this church was too. Currently the location is unknown, but we'd welcome suggestions on where this may be located.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Photo - Over Arizona

Photo by Patrick Jones. Above Canyon de Chelly National Monument, 28 Sep 2017.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Brooklyn Bridge

Photo by Patrick Jones. Brooklyn Bridge, 16 August 2017.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Brooklyn Bridge, 16 August 2017.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Brooklyn Bridge, 16 August 2017.
The land next to where the Brooklyn Bridge meets Manhattan, in the photo above, was once owned by my 10th-great-grandfather, Philippe Du Trieux. I was able to walk through this area after finishing meetings at the United Nations on 16 August 2017. I walked from Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge. While I had written about Philippe's life in the Netherlands, I have spent little time recounting his life after departing Amsterdam in 1624. I will have a post on his life as the court messenger in New Amsterdam in the near future.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Land deed from Allen to Elizabeth Matthews

Last month I wrote about my 4th-great-grandparents, Allen Matthews and Sarah Davis Matthews. At the time, I referenced a land deed from Allen to his sister-in-law Elizabeth Matthews in Smith County, Tennessee on 17 February 1847. Thanks to information provided by distant cousin and fellow Matthews researcher Linda, below is a copy of that land deed.
Land deed from Allen to Elizabeth Matthews. 17 Feb 1847.
Allen sold the land to Elizabeth for $150.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Black Sheep

Last week I was looking at State of Tennessee v Pleasant M. Riggs, a case from the Supreme Court of Tennessee and Grainger County Circuit Court. This week brings another case referencing members of the Jones and Thornhill family, the State vs Samuel and Thomas Larimore (1879). The Riggs case contained testimony by Roland Larimore, a neighbor of Richard Thornhill who may have been married to Richard's sister, Amanda Elizabeth Thornhill. The case of State vs Samuel and Thomas Larimore is a curious one, containing 50 pages and conflicting testimony by witnesses who were related or connected by marriage.
Source: TSLA, State v Samuel and Thomas Larimore, 1879.

The action was brought by William A. Bowers in Hamblen County against two sons of Roland Larimore, Samuel and Thomas, for grand larceny, stealing 50 bushels of wheat from Bowers' property. Bowers was married to Margaret E. Thornhill, daughter of Richard Thornhill and Margaret Cline. Thomas W. Thornhill was a witness for Bowers. A grand jury found Samuel and Thomas Larimore guilty, fixing their punishment at 3 years and nine months confinement each in the State Penitentiary. The Larimores argued for a new trial and appealed to the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

William Bowers asserted that 50 bushels of wheat was taken from his barn. On 4 September 1878, he found nine sacks of wheat hidden in his cornfield behind his barn. He got some of his neighbors to help watch to see who might come back to take the sacks of wheat. On the night of 5 September, Thomas Thornhill, Joseph Jones (my 3rd-great-grandfather), Tom Jones (Joseph's son, my 2nd-great-grandfather), George Bowers, George Lewis and George Newman were stationed with Bowers on various points to lookout for the wheat thieves. In Bowers' testimony, he noted how the moon was very bright that evening, proving enough light to be able to watch the sacks of wheat.

A wagon arrived at about 9pm from the direction of Roland Larimore's property. Bowers recognized Roland's sons Samuel and Thomas. Thomas Larimore started to lift up a sack of wheat, and Bowers yelled at him to surrender. Thomas dropped the sack and ran off, and Bowers fired a shot at him. Samuel took off with the wagon.

Thomas Thornhill also testified that he saw Thomas Larimore pick up the sack of wheat and that he heard Samuel Larimore driving the wagon.

Another witness named Mason Moore testified that Samuel and Thomas Larimore approached him on four occasions to help them steal the wheat from Bowers', in exchange for a portion of the proceeds. Moore was to be the Larimore's lookout to see if anyone came out of Bowers' house while they were stealing the wheat. Moore had been helping the Larimores steal wheat from other area farmers.

Roland Larimore offered his testimony that the boys Samuel and Thomas lived with him, that they had gone to bed before dark and that his daughter Adeline had fastened the back door to his home with a pin on the inside and the front door with a chain. Roland testified that he did hear a wagon pass by his house about 9pm. He said he did not hear any noise from where the boys were sleeping and that he did not think they could get out without him hearing.

Roland's other children Adeline, John and Richard provided testimony in support of their brothers.

The court ruled against the Larimore brothers, sentencing them to jail.

The witness list included Madison Line, who sold land to Joseph Jones in 1878.

I thought this might be the end of the case, but the Tennessee Wills and Probate records on Ancestry had a large file on Roland Larimore, much of it on bonds and summons issued in the case against Samuel and Thomas Larimore.

The probate file also contained another case involving Roland Larimore, the State v Roland Larimore and Martha Mansfield, for lewdness in December 1872.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Visit to the birthplace of the Internet

This is a series of photos from a tour of 3420 Boelter Hall at UCLA. It is a recreation of the lab where the first ARPANET message was sent from UCLA to Stanford in October 1969, ushering in the Internet Age. For better photos and more background, see this 2014 article from Gizmodo.
Photo by Patrick Jones. 3420 Boelter Hall, 25 Sep 2017.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Entrance to 3420 Boelter Hall at UCLA.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Diagram of the early ARPANET.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Early computing.
Photo by Patrick Jones. 3420 Boelter Hall, 25 Sep 2017.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Looking inside the Interface Message Processor.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Dr. Leonard Kleinrock recalls the history of the ARPANET.

Friday, October 6, 2017

More testimony in the Riggs case

I am continuing to make my way through the 107-page case file from the Tennessee State Library and Archives for State of Tennessee v Pleasant Riggs. Yesterday I covered the testimony of my 3rd-great-grandfather, Joseph Jones. The testimony of witness Columbus Biddle provides more context into the dispute that led to the killing of Captain John A. Thornhill. Biddle stated that there were two factions in the regiment, one led by Thornhill and one led by Colonel Parsons. He said "the feeling was very bitter between the two parties. I do not know which side Riggs was on. Captain Bell was on the Parsons side. Riggs was a private soldier in Captain Bell's company."

Sarah Jane Thornhill Ryan, sister of Richard Thornhill, and Margaret Emily Thornhill Bowers, sister of Captain John Thornhill, were present at the home with the company led by Captain Bell arrived. They both provided testimony that the company called John out of the house and shot him as he ran.

The rest of the case file shows the charge to the jury in Grainger County and the costs provided to the court and witnesses.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Testimony of Joseph Jones

I have been very lucky to stumble across various cases and documents referring to my 3rd-great-grandfather, Joseph Jones. His Civil War pension file provided a wealth of information, identifying his four wives. A Civil War pension file for Thomas W. Thornhill included a handwritten note signed by Joseph. The case surrounding the murder of Captain John A. Thornhill mentions Joseph Jones as part of his command in the 9th Tennessee Cavalry. It was a nice surprise to see his name mentioned again in the Supreme Court of Tennessee records for State of Tennessee v Pleasant M. Riggs.
Testimony of Joseph Jones. State v. Riggs, 1869.

According to Joseph's testimony, he was marching with the company when the lead group shot and killed John Thornhill at his uncle Richard Thornhill's home. He did not see the shots fired, but he agreed with other testimony that Riggs' mule was in the lead and had tracks near where Thornhill was shot. On cross-examination, Jones said he was riding with Captain Bell and did not see who had fired shots at Thornhill. Joseph Jones and James Cox were part of the group that arrested Pleasant Riggs later that evening in Morristown, Tennessee.

A scout, who is never named, had been sent ahead with the lead group. Several witnesses stated that private soldiers knew nothing of the object and purpose of scouts.

The case mentions refers to several witnesses in the case, all who have connections to the Jones and Thornhill families. Joseph Jones was compensated for 12 days of being a witness. Richard Thornhill was compensated for 13 days. Jacob Ryan (here spelled Ryans) was compensated for 8 days. He was the husband of Sarah Jane Thornhill, youngest sister of Richard. Margaret Emily Bowers was a sister of John Thornhill. Roland Larimore was possibly married to a sister of Richard Thornhill and was certainly a close friend and neighbor.

The case was originally filed in Jefferson County, but the venue was moved to neighboring Grainger County. The case was initiated on 15 August 1865, against James Bell, Samuel E. Rankin, Pleasant M. Riggs, Job Powell, Jacob Letcher, John Biddle, John James, Isaac Frazier, Peyton Rutherford, Benjamin Lockhart, Monroe Hooper and Joseph Parsons by Richard Thornhill and Joseph Jones.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Looking into the Riggs case

In Monday's post, I started revisiting the case of State of Tennessee v Pleasant Riggs. Riggs was a Private in the 9th Tennessee Cavalry from 1864-1865. He had previously served in the Confederate Army from 1861-1683. Riggs was with the Union soldiers during the murder of Captain John A. Thornhill on 24 June 1865. A civil suit was brought against Riggs and other soldiers, this wound its way up to the Supreme Court before being sent back to the circuit court in 1866, finding judgment in favor of Riggs that the circuit court had ruled against him in error. This case file covers the retrial in Grainger County, Tennessee from November 1866 to 1869. The new trial began on 24 December 1866.

A Grand Jury was formed, and Riggs posted a $3000 bond on 28 December 1866. The next proceedings in the case were on 29 April 1867. The Tennessee Attorney General represented the State, charging Riggs with murder. The State also claimed Riggs was in default on the $3000 bond. Riggs filed an appearance on 28 August 1868. In December 1868, Riggs' counsel requested a continuance to the next term of the court (April 1869). In April 1869, Riggs' counsel again requested a continuance to the next term, August 1869. On 25 August 1869, Riggs entered a plea of not guilty. The jury found Riggs guilty of second degree murder, sentencing him to 10 years hard labor in jail.

Riggs took his case back to the Supreme Court of Tennessee. On 1 September 1869, Riggs' counsel provided a series of exhibits in support of his client. First, they claimed two of the jurors were ineligible to have been empaneled. Second, the jury should have been advised that Riggs was a soldier in the US Army and was ordered by a superior officer to be at the place where the murder occurred, that he was lawfully there and no act or deed of the others could be given in evidence of the defendant Riggs.

Third, Riggs' counsel argued that the State had to provide that Riggs "had knowledge of the object and purpose of the expedition and actually participated in the killing, and knew that the act was unlawful." Fourth, the State had to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Supreme Court sided with Riggs.

After the case
Riggs married in 1869 and moved to Hawkins County, Tennessee. He had a daughter Eliza in January 1870, and a son John in 1872. By 1880, Pleasant and wife Joanna were living in Hamblen County, Tennessee. Pleasant Riggs died in 1887 in Hamblen County.

Riggs married Joanna Giffort or Gifford in Grainger County, Tennessee on 15 September 1868. He had been previously married to Fanny A. M. Ellis on 28 October 1860 in Jefferson County. Fanny and Riggs were separated during the Civil War, and the depositions in the Riggs case mention that he was living apart from his wife.


While this marked the end of the Supreme Court case, this recap only covers the first 37 pages of the file. There are still 100 more pages to cover. Fortunately the case file also included the witness testimony from the circuit court, and this is where it becomes very interesting for my family history research. I will continue this in the next post.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Another one from the Tennessee State Library & Archives

A frequent research subject on the blog has been the facts surrounding the murder of Captain John A. Thornhill, nephew of my 4th-great-grandmother Elizabeth Thornhill Jones. I have posted before about finding cases mentioning family from the Tennessee State Library and Archives. While looking again for references to the Matthews family I decided to check if I may have missed cases for the Thornhill family. I apparently missed a big one. The case of State of Tennessee v Pleasant Riggs (1869) is a whopping 107 pages. This is a companion case to Rankin v State of Tennessee, argued before the Supreme Court of Tennessee in 1867.
Source: TSLA. State v Pleasant Riggs, cover page.
The case includes depositions and statements from several of my extended family, including my 3rd-great-grandfather Joseph Jones, Elizabeth Thornhill Jones' brother, Richard Thornhill, and others.

I have long thought that I had enough background material to turn the stories surrounding Thornhill into a book. Adding another 107 pages of case material from the Tennessee State Library & Archives expands this greatly. I will work through this slowly and try to weave in references from my prior research. There's much more to come on this case.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Guardian

Photo by Patrick Jones. Mural by Francisco Letelier at Santa Monica Red Cross.

This mural, called "Guardian," is located on the Santa Monica Red Cross building on 11th Street in Santa Monica, not far from our condo. The work was painted by Venice-based artist Francisco Letelier in collaboration with Beautify Earth. It is a beautiful piece and looks inspired by Gustav Klimt's style in the golden hair of the woman.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Mural by Francisco Letelier. 25 Sept 2017.

Friday, September 22, 2017


Source: North Carolina, 1826.
After writing about my 5th-great-grandparents Wiley and Sarah Freeze Mathews, I turn to Wiley's father, my 6th-great-grandfather Claborn Mathews. His name is spelled in various ways in documents, from Clyborn to Claiborne to Claburn or Cliborn. Claborn lived in Chatham County, North Carolina, and his will is available from Ancestry's North Carolina Wills and Probate Records. The will was written on 6 October 1797.
Source: Ancestry. Chatham County, NC.
Signature line from Claborn's will.
In 1801, Claborn executed a codicil on the will granting a distribution of the share of his estate to two of his children, Claborn Mathews Junior and Mary Mathews Skidmore.
Codicil from 1801.
Claborn left his personal estate to his wife Mary, with an equal division of his land to sons Wiley and Lewis Mathews. The rest of the estate was to be divided among all of his children then single. Separately he left five shillings to son Kinchen Mathews, and five shillings to daughter Lucretia Mathews Horn (spelled as Lucreasy). His wife Mary and son Britain Mathews were appointed as executors of the estate. The will was proven in November 1806, meaning Claborn must have died in late 1806.

Claborn appears in the 1790 US Census in Chatham County, North Carolina. He is listed close to brother Lawrence Mathews.
Source: 1790 US Census. Chatham County, NC.
In the 1800 US Census, Claborn appears in Hillsborough, Chatham County, NC.
Source: 1800 US Census. Chatham County, NC.
His birth date is not known, but is suspected to be around 1845, although it could have been earlier or slightly later. Claborn witnessed a deed in Northampton County, North Carolina on 7 November 1767. Northampton County is on the Virginia-North Carolina state line. Claborn likely moved to the area that became Chatham County around the time of county formation in 1770. His father Thomas Mathews died in Northampton County in 1770.

Claborn acquired 140 acres on the east side of New Hope Creek on 27 June 1783. The land was adjoining Matthew Davis, who also witnessed the purchase.

Claborn's wife Mary must have died about 1819, as that is when the remainder of the Mathews estate was sold.

There is more work to do on this branch of the family.